(a stain painting)
by Helen Frankenthaler
(artist notes at Wikipedia)
Quilt Notes: CRAZY ANN is illustrated in Maggie Malone's 5,500 QUILT BLOCK DESIGNS (#2641), and Jinny Beyer's Quilter's Album (p. 188-6).
Barbara Brackman's ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PIECED QUILT PATTERNS (#1856) dates the design back to Ruth E. Finley's OLD PATCHWORK QUILTS AND THE WOMEN WHO MADE THEM (p.108) (publ. 1929), and where Finley mentions alternative names for the block, FOLLOW THE LEADER and TWIST AND TURN.
There is much variation in the compendiums for this pattern, the original, from Finley's collection called FOLLOW THE LEADER, the simplest (upper right, but without the same variety and dark and light in color and fabrics). THE PERFECT PATCH-WORK PRIMER (1973) by Beth Gutcheon offers perhaps the most complex, including the design illustrated upper left and tiled as a tessellation below — two of the corner squares are removed and the parallelograms overlapping the center alternate between the vertical and horizontal. Gutcheon reflects on the importance of originality in rendering this and other quilt designs, perhaps in conjunction (or opposition) with the pattern's secondary name, FOLLOW THE LEADER (p.64):
"When you first choose a block from a quilt or this book, you see it colored a certain way. It used to be that people followed each other so closely in the use of colors within a traditional block, that frequently the exact same pattern has two different names depending on how the lights and darks are arranged. But you should consider the arrangement of shades in each block as merely examples; changing the quality and placement of colors can change the effect of the block completely, and it is one of the most important parts of the design."
The colors here were inspired by a wild and wonderful stain painting by the abstract expressionist, Helen Frankenthaler, illustrated left, which demonstrates a technique in color harmony of combining "near" complements: that is, combining colors nearly (though not exactly) opposite each other on the color wheel), and often balanced by mitigating neutrals, in this case grey and navy-black. For an interesting book on color combinations in modern art and design, see DESIGNER'S GUIDE TO COLOR (Vol. 3) by Jeanne Allen.
See TUTTI FRUITY, for more on Frankenthaler. Compare with other off-beat designs at this site, including CRAZY QUILT or LEAPFROG, also ENTERTAINING MOTIONS.